Category Archives: Collectables

Coins, coins, coins…

Yesterday, we had quite a few people in the shop and I spent a lot of the day in the front of the shop talking rather than working. Today was the opposite and I spent most of the time sitting in the back room typing a seemingly endless list of coins into eBay. 

These aren’t just ordinary coins, these are tedious modern coins mounted on First Day Covers commemorating things like the Queen Mother’s birthday, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and a Royal Visit to the Isle of Man. They are badly made, dull, uninspired and bring out the worst in me.

I’m generally in favour of tradition and  resistant to change. However, after a couple of hours of this I’m prepared to put the entire Royal Family up against a wall and shoot them (normally I only feel like this about Prince Andrew and Fergie and their unpleasant offspring). A couple of hours later I’m also prepared to undermine the entire capitalist system which makes the successful marketing of such trash possible.

Just a short post for now, though the new editor seems to lack the capacity to count my words. I’m off to polish my hammer and sickle and raise a red flag.

Meanwhile I still haven’t worked out the benefits of the new editor, in any, compared to the old one. I may well go back to the old one.

Royal Family 1937

Dull Day, Declining…

The morning was grey and the journey to work was uneventful. There were just three parcels to pack, and I had them done before the others turned up. One modern silver coin, one 1990’s proof set and one modern medallion – hardly the stuff that gets my pulse racing.

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Then I started sorting brass threepenny bits from the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The oldest ones (1953) are only a few years older than I am and the newest (1967) are considerably younger. To make things worse, the dates aren’t very easy to read. We currently have 87 complete year sets and a sorting tray full of coins – apart from 1958. We’re short of them. When making up year sets there’s always at least one year that slows things down.

After that I had a few coins and medallions to list on eBay and that was that.

You know when you have a day that makes your heart sing and makes the whole world look brighter? This was the opposite.

Fortunately it means that tomorrow is likely to be an improvement.

 

 

The Halo Slips…

You may recall that I’ve trying to stay calm this week.

Well, my resolve has been well and truly pushed today. What sort of person rings a coin shop about a “rare coin” and doesn’t even know what it is? How do you know it’s rare?

We’ve had several old favourites this week – the worn out Victorian pennies, the “old pennies” from 1912 and the ones” in good condition – you can see all the letters”. The ability to see all the letters on a coin doesn’t mean it’s in collectable condition.

Often, when asked about specific details, the seller doesn’t have it to hand and has to go to another room to find it, leaving me hanging on the phone when I have work to do.

We have had some “rare” Charles Dickens £2 coins offered this week after a newspaper story and some eBay idiocy.  The trouble is that newspapers report coins as “sold” on eBay when they are merely for sale on eBay. Any idiot can put a coin on eBay with a massive price on it. Judging by what I’ve just seen several idiots are doing it.

To cap it all, as I was trying to get things loaded before we went home, two people rang in the last ten minutes. One had a “rare” decimal penny and one had a “rare” £2 coin.

I came close to snapping.

What sort of person, having found us on the web, presumably with our opening hours, decides to ring ten minutes before closing time?

The prize moment of the day, however was the offer of a rare £2 coin with a picture of the White House on it. I didn’t take that call, I just heard one of my workmates say: “I think you’ll find that the 2005 £2 coin actually has St Paul’s Cathedral on it.”

Image result for st pauls £2 coin

End of the Week

I have taken Number Two Son to work. I have navigated through an unexpected diversion and a set of roadworks that weren’t supposed to be there tonight.

Now, as a large, clear moon shines outside, I am am sneaking in a quick extra post. Today was a lovely sunny day, though I didn’t appreciate the fact until I stepped out of the shop at 4pm. Most of my day had consisted of parcels, computer screens and a bundle of old maps.

Apart from chatting to a couple of customers and drinking coffee, that was my day.

It’s likely that this will be as good as it gets for the next seven years, at which point I will retire and fade away. I’ve not quite worked out the best way to grow old disgracefully but it will probably include excessive facial hair, passing rude comments in a loud voice and wearing clothes that make it look like I dressed in the dark.

I’ve already made a start on all three.

 

 

More Moaning about Medallions

If there’s one area where the UK can be said to lead the world it’s the production of tawdry royal souvenirs. Many of them, well, the ones relating to royal marriages anyway, have outlasted the subject of their commemoration many times over.

Here are some souvenirs of short-lived royal marriages. If there was any justice you’d be able to send them to Buckingham Palace for a refund.

There is, I seem to recall, something called the Royal Effigies Act, but it seems to have been replaced by the Trade Marks Act 1994. When you look at the royal effigies in these picture you have to wonder if making them look like monkeys is a way of getting round the legislation.

I feel a bit more positive about the birthday and Jubilee medallions, and about the portraits used, though a day of entering them on eBay can wear the shine off anything.

They will be loaded on eBay this week, so I’m hoping that we will get rid of some of them in the next week or two – I need the room on my desk!

Check out the rest of the shop here.

Some medals and a story

We had an interesting group of medals brought into the shop a few weeks ago, though it wasn’t obvious at first.
It was just three medals – a 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star and War Medal. They were in the box of issue, with an address label and had clearly been received through the post, looked at and stuffed back into the box, where they had stayed for the last seventy years.
Those of you unfamiliar with British medals I presume you are staring at the page with a glazed look. If you are familiar with them you are probably going “Aha!”
After a century of giving out campaign medals (our first general issue to all ranks being the Waterloo medal in 1815) we came up with a fairly complicated system for the Great War. I won’t go through it all here, but if you are an insomniac please let me know and I will have a crack at curing you.
In the Second World War we came up with what seemed like a simpler solution, but in the interests of economy they decided not to name them. The Australians, the South Africans and the Indians managed to find the money to do it, but we didn’t.

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WW2 campaign stars and war medal

We issued a range of cheaply manufactured stars with ribbons designed by King George VI. Unless they are accompanied by paperwork or named medals such as a Long Service Medal there is no way of putting a story to the medals.
It always strikes me as a shame when you just have a handful of anonymous medals.
Fortunately we know they were awarded to Mr P Ramsdale of 25, Brownlow Rd, Mansfield, Notts. He must have served in the Royal Army Service Corps or Army Catering Corps because that’s the return address on the envelope.
There are too many P. Ramsdales to isolate the exact one on the Ancestry Website, but there is a reference to him in the local paper – the Nottingham Evening Post of 9th January 1947.

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Percy Ramsdale in the Nottingham Evening Post

Armed with the knowledge that he was called Percy, it became a little easier to find information, though I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for.
The Pacific Star isn’t common to the British Army and a group of three like this usually denotes someone taken prisoner at the fall of Singapore. Frustratingly, I couldn’t find any records to start with, but finally found them on Ancestry. I’m not sure if I’d been missing it up until then, or if it was a new release.
One of the records shows the names of his parents, and the Brownlow Road address. I’m not sure what this signifies as he seems to have been married with a son by then and I would have expected his wife to be on the record.
He is listed as being taken prisoner on 15th February 1942, the day of the surrender of Singapore (one of the worst, and most shameful British defeats, and we’ve had a number of them over the years), and appears on lists of prisoners held in Thailand for the rest of the war.
His year of birth is 1907, not 1905 as given here.

Screen shot of Percy Ramsdale's POW record

Screen shot of Percy Ramsdale’s POW record

It amazes me that a man released from Japanese captivity in the middle of 1945 could be back as a coal face worker by January 1948. They obviously made the m tougher in those days.
It’s not as if he’d had a great start in life. His father’s military career, for instance, lasting from 9th September 1914 until 14th October. He was clearly a patriot, to have enlisted so soon. But, from the reason for his discharge, I take it that his personal qualities as a husband and father may have been questionable. The reason he was “not likely to become an efficient soldier” as specified in King’s Regulations was noted as “Chronic Gonorrhea acquired before enlistment”. However, he does seem to have been a hard-worker – hotel groom (1911), miner (1907 and 1914) and railway worker (1939)
so he clearly did his best for his family.
It can be tricky looking back and making judgements. After all, Ramsdale Snr was just one of 416,891 men in the army treated for VD between 1914-18.
I wasn’t able to trace more information on Percy, until finding his date of death. He died in 1983 at the age of 77. However, I feel lucky to have found this much. It could easily have been different if the family had thrown the box away.

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The Pacific Star

 
 

Some more stamps…

We bought some stamp sets last week and I put this one to one side for a photo. The five stamps come to £1.89, which is, coincidentally, (and 20 years after issue) the value of second class Signed For postage.

They are a bit shiny so the individual shots didn’t come out too well.

 

Sorry about that. They are a good set, featuring some great stories, and deserve better pictures than this.

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Just a short post today. I may try another one later. It was a hectic day with 24 parcels to do – one with 46 items in it and another with 24 medallions. They take some packing!

Sounds silly after some of the jobs I’ve had to say I’m exhausted after packing a few parcels, but there you are – old age.

I also failed my blood test this morning, so I’m back again next week. Pah!